Goodbye Google: The First Steps

A couple of weeks back I mentioned that I’d pretty much had it with Google and was looking to – as my Internet Friend and podcast co-host Michael Schechter put it – “vote with my data” by divorcing myself as much as possible from their monolithic web presence and services. I’m not going to dive back into the “why” so much here (you can read much of that in my previous post on the matter), but instead I’m going to start to get into to the “how” aspect of things.
This isn’t going to be an easy process, especially when you consider how intertwined I am with Google at present. Here are the main areas I’m going to focus on, all of which I am firmly entrenched in at the moment:

  • Search
  • Voice
  • Picasa/Photos
  • Chat
  • YouTube
  • Email
  • Social
  • RSS
  • Calendar
  • Alerts
  • Apps
  • Maps

(Incidentally, Lane Wilkinson has put together a really good piece about the options you have available over at the Sense and Reference weblog, so I recommend you give that a look to see where you can take your data if you’re so inclined.)

Now keep in mind I plan on doing this not only on my Mac, but also on my iOS devices, which may prove even trickier considering there’s less “tweaking” I can do with them (per se). Rather than start with RSS or Email, I decided to dip my toe into the waters in the easiest manner possible, mainly just to get used to the idea of how much work I had ahead of me. So I started with some of the stuff already out there.

Installed Google-ness

This was the easiest part. I simply went into each of my devices and deleted the following applications where they happened to be:

  • Google Chrome: This was a no-brainer. I still have Safari and Mozilla Firefox installed, but Safari has been my browser of choice for eons now. Chrome (and Chromium for that matter) were never really all that stable on my Mac anyway.
  • Google Plus Apps for iOS: Since I’m not going to be an “active” user of the service that essentially changed how Google works, I deleted these apps from my iPhone and iPad.
  • Google Voice for iOS: Never worked. Always crashed. Stupid app.
  • Google Earth: Was a great app for gimmick value alone at first, but it’s barely been touched since the first week it came out. It won’t be missed.

I honestly thought Google did a terrible job with their iOS apps from the get-go. Maybe that’s because they have their own “little” mobile platform they can develop for instead.

Google Search

How to do this has been well documented across the web. I simply took bits and pieces from each to make it happen. Here are some links to check out that can help you get going on this part of the process:

Just going over what Ben2 and Pat have offered was enough to get my site free and clear of Google and my Safari browser towing the line as well. I really dig the “bang” options that DuckDuckGo has given me, which speeds up my search considerably if I know on what sites I’m looking for something. The customization options that DDG (as I have come to call it) has are all I need – and more. I’d be curious to see what the adoption rate of DDG has been since people started to really jump ship from Google.

Google Voice

Since I’m in Canada, I couldn’t get a Canadian phone number for Google Voice – not even when it was GrandCentral was this an option. So I’d opted for a Washington State number when I got moved over to the service after GrandCentral’s acquisition. And I never used it. With that in mind, I thought that opting out of Google Voice would be an easy thing to do.

Not so much.

Thanks, Google. So I did what they said above and that was (essentially?) that.


This was another easy one, since I never used it. I’m more of a Flickr guy. But I also never downloaded Picasa and yet their were photos in my google profile because “Photos” is a separate entity. Sort of.

It seems as if these Photos are intertwined with your Google Plus account now, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. I went in to my “Drop Box” and deleted that album – which is simple to do – and left all of the others up either by choice by virtue of the fact that I couldn’t delete them. Oh, and by choice I mean there was one album I could delete of the four that were there.

It turns out you cannot delete photos that you’ve put in posts, made profile photos or ones that are in your “scrapbook”, so they are up there until (presumably) I kill my Google+ account.

I could, however, delete my “Blogger” photo, but when I went to do it I got this message:


Google Chat

Disabled. What that means, I’m not sure. But it’s not there anymore, at least not in Gmail.

That said, it’s still in my G+ page’s sidebar. But since i’ don’t go to G+ anymore (at least not my personal page), it’s not really a bother. I never got into Google Talk, so that’s not an issue or concern for me.


I rarely use YouTube. I’ve moved the iOS versions into folders that I consider wastes of space (since you can’t delete the YouTube app from iOS devices that aren’t jailbroken). I’m using Showyou on my iPad and iPhone for my social video experiences and while I can’t entirely avoid YouTube, I’m not spending much time on it.

So I did this.

And then this happened.


So what I “learned” is that I can’t “quit” YouTube as long as I have a Google account. Even though I “deleted” my YouTube account, all of my subscriptions, settings and everything else are still active with this resurrected account. Despite that big warning I received saying that everything I’d put into YouTube would be gone, it wasn’t.

Basically, even though I was full of intent when I hit the delete button, it seems as if Google’s intent is to keep me locked into YouTube no matter what I do.

Methinks I need to speed up this series.

Next time: Getting Out of Gmail

1Ben also links to another reason getting out of Google is a good idea. Ever hear of the term “weblining”? Here’s the scoop.
2More Ben. This time, he links to Microsoft’s response to all of the Google goings-on.